Monday, 27 August 2007

Movie Review: the creative genius and simplicity of Ratatouille

Director: Brad Bird

Remy advicing his brother Emile on the joy of tasting food

Brad Bird and Pixar animation have more than a knack for animation. Bird showed us in The Iron Gaint (1999) and the delightful The Incredibles (2004).
Here he picks up a seemingly strage story of a rat named Remy who has a sensitive nose for food and its ingredients and loves to cook. During a sneak meal, Remy gets separated from his family and ends up in a restuarant of the late chef Gusteau, whose book Remy had been reading from a sleepy old lady's home. Gusteau had a motto-anyone can cook.

From left, Skinner- the main chef at Gusteau's, Linguini- the garbage boy turned chef, who is helped by Remy, and Colette- the only woman cook at Gusteau's.

Remy and Linguini meet each other for the first time

How the rest of the story unfolds is creatively beautiful and hilarious. An unbelieavable plot line is made credible and beautiful by animation. The characters are brought to life with amazing clarity, we believe in them instantly.
It may also change the way you eat food. Do not gobble the edible things on your plate. Close your eyes, take a small bite and experience the taste.
Do not miss the Pixar short film- Lifted, that plays before the movie, a humourous take on aliens capturing humans. Watch it in theaters, for the most wonderful two hours of imagination and hmm..taste!

Movie Review: Transformers: Tried and tested drabness

Director: Michael Bay 
Megan Fox plays the usual unbelievably attractive Hollywood college girl of the disaster movies 

Alien attack! Not again. You know what to expect and you have seen it all before. The attack is on an US army camp as usual. This time they are robots from the planet of Cybertron. The good ones are Autobots led by Optimus Prime, the bad ones are the Decepticons led by Megatron. Both are looking for the cube -the source of great power, hidden somewhere on the earth. Somehow, the cube's location is embedded on the spectacles of a teenager's grandfather.
Autobots do not want to harm humans, the evil robots want it for more power and what else - destroy humanity (yawn). The Hollywood formula is played along, clueless teenagers, beautiful college girl, beautiful geniuses, black geniuses, US saving the world.
The action scenes remind you of all the routine Hollywood war and disaster movies you have seen. Apart from brief moments of imagination, the action is chaotic and loud, before one figures out who is killing whom, good has won over evil, yet again.

Optimus Prime is the autobot leader

No surprises here, no great story, pedestrian humour, yawn-inducing ending. As for the robots, they indulge us briefly with their view on humans, nothing more. An average movie, held up by expensive special effects.
Why didn't Steven Spielberg- the executive producer, direct the film. Not challenging enough for him?

Megatron leads the evil decepticons

Friday, 24 August 2007

Film Review: Chak De India: Of Indian Women, Regionalism, Grit & Teamwork

Chak De India (2007)
Director: Shimit Amin
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Malvade, Shilpa Shukla and other gifted actors 

Even though the cliches of a sports-based film are all there - locker room pep talk, underdog to champion, the treatment by the director gives it a fresh look. The dormitory, the sports campus, the players - look real. They are not stars and they actually play hockey. No stunt doubles here.

The hockey matches are executed brilliantly, great camera work and the sound of the whirring hockey ball, the spectators displayed - without any prejudices. Best watched on a 70mm screen for a wonderful feel of the game.

Shah Rukh Khan is understated and at the same time expressive, none of his stylish dialogues so unfairly imitated on TV comedy shows. We believe him to be the coach, unlike the Karan Johar films where he seems only a replica of himself - Shah Rukh Khan.

Many movies have suffered due to star presence. The story and screenplay are given a pass, for if there is a star it is going to be a hit anyway, why try anything new? Why take risks? It was the case with Shankar's Rajnikanth starrer Sivaji (2007) and Sanjay Gadhvi's Dhoom sequel. Here Shimit has taken the risk with a different story to tell.

The message is clear - cut the jingoism, the big talk - focus and work hard on your dream, vested interests have no place in a team game. By the end credits, the film made me think - What can I do for my country?

Way to go Shimit Amin, has come a long way from the grittyness of Ab Tak Chappan (2004). The most striking feature in the initial minutes are the cultural prejudices of India that are brought out and how we look at women: People from north-eastern states look like the Chinese, there are wild people in Jharkhand, a Tamilian, Malayalee or a Hyderabadi, one is always called a 'madrasi'. Insensitivity and the habit of mocking everything under the sun are highlighted here.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

The Monday Cat

Yes, that is how I would look on a Monday morning. It is like getting released on bail on Friday, dancing through Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday morning the skies shout-GET BACK TO PRISON!

Monday, 20 August 2007

The Elephant Hill : Trek Diary 3

We stumbled through the long grass, and Raincloud said, " Look to the right and left for any tigers or leopards..."

I did not say, " Ha ha."

One always expected such remarks if you knew Raincloud. One gets used to it. I do not laugh nor does Raincloud say a thing.
The highway traffic makes noise, the sound is more coherent as we climb higher.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Human Nature by Gianbattista Bonavita

(Click on image for large size view.)

Gianbattista Bonavita, the designer of the above image is from France. This design was selected by the online t-shirt store Threadless for production. Bonavita in an interview reveals how he has been interested in design ever since he was 5-6 years old.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Raw Meat: recipe to wild spouse behaviour

Click on image for larger view

Piranha Club has been around for 20 years now, yes, since 1987. Bud Grace created a variety of characters with unemotional faces that betray their thinking and actions that have far reaching effects.
This strip gives a glimpse of the eccentricity of the characters, desperately wanting changes in their mudane lives.
Raw meat, anyone?

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Friday Release: The Blue Umbrella ( August 10, 2007)


The Blue Umbrella, a children's film by Vishal Bharadwaj will finally release on August 10, 2007 in India. The film is based on a Ruskin Bond novella of the same name.
The book tells the story of Binya, a little girl living with her brother in a remote village of Himachal Pradesh. One day she chances upon a beautiful umbrella left behind by tourists. Binya's imagination makes it almost a friend for her.
The village's richest man is a middle-aged shopkeeper, who has an old "falling apart" shop; occasionally selling warm Coca Cola bottles to tourists, apart from catering to the poor villagers needs.
In a poor village the umbrella seems like a luxury and the shop keeper desires to have it. He employs a boy to steal it from the girl. But the boy is caught by Binya's brother after a frenzied chase.
What happenned next? Read the book for that.
The film has the same setting but the story has been changed to facilitate the film's length.

Pankaj Kapoor plays the cunning shopkeeper and Shriya plays the little girl Binya.
Vishal Bhardwaj had earlier made the children's film Makhdee and the Shakespearean adaptation of Othello- Omkara.
The music is by the director himself with lyrics by Gulzar.
A song goes:

Baarish se jo rishta hai
Paani se mann kichta hai.....

(The relation that is with rain, water attracts me)

The lines personify the umbrella's desire. Gulzar is poetically brillant in the songs..there are three of them.